Prospect hangs on to nip Hersey
Ben Zellmer wasn't sick enough to know what to do.
"I went to my coaches and asked them to switch me on defense to guard (Jacob) Kluczewski," Zellmer said. "I noticed he was beating us on the inside. He is a kid that I played against forever and I knew I could guard him. I didn't want him to beat us."
Despite throwing up at halftime, Zellmer stepped up and shut Kluczewski out in the final quarter as Prospect held on for a 46-44 Mid-Suburban East boys basketball victory Friday in Arlington Heights.
Zellmer also got a little help from a friend when TJ Johannsesen tipped a shot from the top of the arc as time expired to help preserve the victory and keep Prospect (5-4, 3-0) alone in first place in the MSL East.
"I read the play," Johannesen said. "My man was in the corner and I saw that there was just two seconds left and I just made a run at the ball. And I got a piece of it."
It was a tight game throughout with Prospect leading 23-22 at the half.
It remained close with three ties and two lead changes in the third quarter thanks to Kluczewski. The 6-foot-4 senior was having his way in the low post, scoring 8 of his 15 points in the third quarter, and it appeared that Prospect had no way to slow him down.
Zellmer, who is 6-foot-2, loudly voiced his opinion.
"Zellmer yelled at (assistant coach Brad) Rathe, who does all our defensive assignments and says to put him on him," Prospect coach John Camardella said. "That was his call. So we moved him and completely scrapped our previous defense."
With Kluczewski in check, Prospect broke away from a 33-33 tie to run off 5 unanswered points to grab a 38-33 lead with 7:28 to play on a free throw by Johannesen.
Hersey (4-4, 1-2) adjusted its offense and rattled off 8 consecutive points with Rocco Ronzio (11 points) hitting a pair of baskets as Hersey appeared to be in control with a 41-38 lead with 4:55 to play.
"Most people don't think that we had it in us," Camardella said. "I think that everyone in that locker room knows that they do. I think that is what matters with this team."
Prospect responded with a run of its own, scoring the next 7 points to surge ahead 45-41 with 2:11 left in on a basket by Matthew Wolich.
Prospect had a chance to put the game away down the stretch, but the Knights would miss their next 3 free throws including the front end of a one-and-one.
Hersey closed to 45-44 on a pair of free throws by Ronzio with just under a minute to play. Prospect salted away the next 49 seconds and extend its lead to 46-44 as Zellmer hit 1 of 2 free throws with 17.5 seconds remaining.
Hersey attempted to run a play, but Prospect smelled it out, forcing the Huskies to take a final timeout. Their final shot was tipped by Johannsen to end the game.
"That is on me," Hersey coach Austin Scott said. "We've got to be better. The first play John (Camardella) knew it. In close games, you look back at a lot of small moments."
Scott was happy with the play of Kluczewski, who had 12 rebounds.
"He is a warrior," Scott said. "We are all so proud of him the way he responded tonight."
Zellmer led Prospect with 16 points, Ben Miller had 11 points and Sam Murray and Wolich each had 8 points.